Vital Metals CEO Russell Bradford (center with tie) joined by guests representing government Indigenous and Metis stakeholders, and business, celebrated the new processing facility in Saskatoon. Courtesy of Vital Metals.
Editor's Note: The story previously listed the area of the facility in feet instead of metres. We apologize for the error.
At the Rare Earth Summit on Sept. 20, Vital Metals and the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) presented the initial phase of its rare earth processing facility to around 200 industry leaders from around the globe.
The facility, located in Saskatoon, features a processing unit dedicated to producing mixed rare earth carbonate, a separation unit where the rare earths are separated, and lastly, a metals unit that will turn out rare earth metals.
The new facility will process rare earth deposits that originate from Cheetah Resources’ Nechalacho project, acquired by Vital Metals three years ago. The project, located at Thor Lake, approximately 110 kilometres southeast of Yellowknife, is Canada’s only rare earth mine. Raw ore originating from these deposits will be “processed to a high purity, mixed rare earth carbonate,” and then sent to Norway-based REEtec and U.S.-based Ucore for separation into individual magnetic rare earth metals.
Related: Cheetah Resources starts small at Nechalacho, Canada’s first rare earth producer
The rare earths processed at the facility are essential to produce goods for a variety of global industries, including wind turbines, mobile phones, electric vehicles, technology used in the medical field and more. According to federal Minister of Natural Resources Canada Jonathon Wilkinson, growth of the rare earth industry is a “generational opportunity” for Canada.
“Ultimately our aim is to grow the supply of critical minerals and rare earth elements, and position Canada as an indispensable nation within the global supply chain,” Wilkinson said.
According to Vital Metals, Saskatchewan is considered to be the ideal location for the new 3,087-square-metre plant on account of the province’s “excellent workforce, environmental protection, intermodal transportation and energy infrastructure, respected education facilities and an established mineral processing culture and infrastructure and low cost of living.” The province is expected to see over 100 new job opportunities between Vital Metals’ processing plant and SRC’s extraction facility.